Readers’ Place

In the City

Here are 3 new novels where the city in which the action takes place is practically one of the characters:

Paris KeyThe Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell  As a child, Genevieve Martin spent a wonderful summer in Paris at her uncle’s locksmith shop, recovering from her mother’s death. While falling in love with the city, she also learned tricks of the locksmith trade. Now, grown up and on the verge of divorce, Genevieve returns to Paris after her uncle’s death. While she enjoys spending her time in the city she never stopped loving, and begins to work through her uncle’s life in locks and keys, she uncovers mysteries about her family that will change everything she thought she knew.


Odysseus AbroadOdysseus abroad by Amit Chaudhuri  A 22-year-old homesick Indian literature student and aspiring poet wakes in his shabby London studio, practices his singing, meets his university tutor, delivers his rent, and visits his uncle Radhesh, with whom he shares an afternoon tea, a sweet shop foray, and a restaurant dinner before ambling home. The novel’s pages, of course, contain much more: a single July 1985 London day (think Margaret Thatcher, hum “Karma Chameleon”) in the life of an artistic wannabe reveals multiple lives within that single day, expanding from the quotidian to universal explorations of identity, sexuality, colonialism, immigration, politics, and more.


Suicide of Claire BishopThe suicide of Claire Bishop by Carmiel Banasky  In 1959 New York’s Greenwich Village, Claire Bishop, young and pretty but a willful, heavy-drinking fabulator who married Freddie to escape what felt like a doomed life, is sitting for a portrait he has commissioned for her birthday. She’s drawn out by the artist, Nicolette, who then paints a shocking portrait of Claire’s broken-bodied suicide. In 2004, the earnest, schizophrenic West sees the portrait of a woman’s suicide that he’s convinced has been painted by a woman named -Nicolette with whom he’s been trying to connect. But given the time difference, how can that be?

Compiled by Ina Rimpau

Posted by Barbara | 14 Nov 2015 | Comments Off on In the City

New Book Group Starting Up in January 2016


Can’t afford to take a world tour? How about some armchair travel, then?

We have literature from most of the world’s countries, from Afghanistan through Zimbabwe. We’ll be meeting once a month to sample recent (published since 2000) fiction from outside the US. Shall we go through the alphabet? Continent-hop? Come to our meeting Wednesday, December 2 at 7:30 to share your ideas and suggestions.

We will make a point of selecting titles available through BCCLS.

Ina Rimpau

Posted by Barbara | 15 Oct 2015 | Comments Off on New Book Group Starting Up in January 2016

Refugees in Fiction

The Irish potato famine. Pogroms in Eastern Europe. Two world wars. Revolutions in Russia and Cuba. Natural and political calamities have traditionally been the catalysts leading to migrations of people leaving their worlds behind, often in fear for their lives. It’s as true today as ever. Here are some recent novels about refugees.

when the moon islowWhen the moon is low by Nadia Hashimi . When her happy middle-class life in Afghanistan is shattered by the rise of the Taliban and her husband’s murder by fundamentalists, former schoolteacher Fereiba embarks on a high-risk effort to escape to England with her three children. 



exiles returnThe exiles return by Elisabeth De Waal.  Herself an exile, Elisabeth de Waal, born into a dynastic Jewish family in 1899, lived a privileged childhood in Vienna, became a writer who moved around Europe and died in 1991. This novel reveals her intelligence and articulateness as it evokes 1950s Vienna, haunted by the ghosts of its distant and more recent pasts. De Waal’s cast of characters, which includes an unrepentant Nazi, presents a tableau of life and class in a ruined, now reconfiguring great city–a place of happiness for some, destruction for others.


shadow girlsThe shadow girls by Henning Mankell,. Jesper Humlin is a moderately successful Swedish poet who, after a chance encounter with a Nigerian refugee, wants to expose the plight of international refugees. Hearing their stories ignites Humlin’s passion to do something meaningful, but his lofty ideas don’t align with his subjects, illuminating some prescient issues of the immigrant narrative. 


Ina Rimpau

Posted by Barbara | 17 Sep 2015 | Comments Off on Refugees in Fiction

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